Understanding before Moving 181: Chess history in a nutshell (62)

by ChessBase
6/9/2024 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books on chess training and strategy. In the 181st episode of his ChessBase show "Understanding before moving" Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and continues to look at the career and games of Anatoly Karpov, World Champion from 1975 to 1985. | Photo: Pascal Simon

Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2 Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2

In this two-part course the emphasis will be on typical pawn-structures.


Anatoly Karpov (3)

After the two somewhat "neutral" first episodes about Karpov, we must address his matches against Soviet dissident Viktor Kortchnoi. Their first duel occurred even before Karpov became world champion, in the final of the Candidates Matches 1974. In this 24-game match, Karpov initially led 3-0, but then lost two games in the latter stages of the match. However, in the end he still managed to win the match, though he then did not know that this victory would give him the title as Bobby Fischer, the reigning world champion at that time, did not defend his title.

What Karpov also couldn't foresee was that Kortchnoi would flee the Soviet Union in 1976, becoming a "persona non grata" in the Soviet Union. Yet, Kortchnoi's tenacity led him to win the Candidates Matches twice, forcing the Soviet authorities (who had ignored him for years) to reckon with him. Kortchnoi played two matches for the world championship against Karpov: in 1978 in Baguio City, Philippines, and in 1981, in Merano, Italy.

In the first duel, the title would go to the first player to win six games, with draws not counting. After 17 games, Karpov led 4-1. Kortchnoi then won the 21st game, and after several draws, Karpov won the 27th, increasing his lead to 5-2. However, Kortchnoi fought back with three wins and a draw in the next four games, evening the score after 31 games. However, Kortchnoi then lost the 32nd game, allowing Karpov to retain his world title. This match in the Philippines is considered one of the dirtiest World Chess Championship matches ever.

Beyond the chessboard, there were numerous complaints. Karpov's team included Soviet psychologist and hypnotherapist Vladimir Petrovich Zukhar. Kortchnoi claimed Zukhar, sitting in the front row, was trying to break his concentration. After complaints, Zukhar was moved back several rows. Kortchnoi, believing Zukhar was a parapsychologist, brought in two American yoga specialists. These controversial figures, who had even been convicted of attempted murder, were positioned on either side of Zukhar, supposedly neutralizing his "force field." Kortchnoi believed this helped him recover from a 5-2 deficit to 5-5.

More off-board controversies included protests about possible X-rays in the chairs, flag placements, and yogurt cups. When Karpov received a blueberry yogurt during a game without requesting it, Kortchnoi's team protested, suspecting it was a coded message. Though initially intended as a parody of previous protests, it was taken seriously at the time.

The most spectacular game of the 1974 final of the Candidates Matches was the second game, in which Karpov won in spectacular fashion against Kortchnoi's Dragon. The diagram below shows the crucial position of this game. Kortchnoi's last move was 19…R4c5?, a mistake which Karpov brilliantly refuted with 20.g5!. But what was Karpov's idea after 20...Rxg5?

Master Class Vol.6: Anatoly Karpov

On this DVD a team of experts looks closely at the secrets of Karpov's games. In more than 7 hours of video, the authors examine four essential aspects of Karpov's superb play.

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